Reviewed by Tony Dawson
I had waited with anticipation for the rod, reel and line to arrive. They were being sent from various locations and to say I was keen to put them all together and head out for a session or two on a favourite stretch of local river was a bit of an understatement!
In the end it was two sessions, a good pre-season dust-off on the lower reaches of the Aparima, and it proved to be both a delight from the fishing and the gear perspective and productive to boot: 7 trout in one session and five in the other. It proved to be a very honest workout for this appealing medium/light trout spin combo.
Daiwa have produced an all-new finesse trout combo in the Silver Creek rod and reel. The rod is available in just the one model branded the SSS, Specialist Stream Special, and the Silver Creek reel is an excellent match. I fished the combo with 6lb, 8 strand J braid, also an excellent match. Together they looked really good – aesthetically pleasing as well as being a serious contender in the ‘one rod and reel combo that does everything’ class.
When I first unpacked the rod I was impressed; it was understated but was obviously well-built, with quality components. It’s a pleasing 7 feet in length and comes in four sections, with really well-constructed spigot joints. This rod will pack nicely if there’s a need to travel with it or carry it into a backcountry location, and I’ve always been a fan of spigot joints.
The handle and fore-grip are made of really good quality high grade cork, and give great feel and feedback from the sensitive rod. The reel seat is also cork, and perhaps the only ‘blingy’ aspect to the rod is the attractive reel locking ring: it’s a nice cross weave carbon with a coppery accent. It’s comfortable and looks nice too. The unit is finished in a plain matt carbon surface with nicely lacquered bindings and joints, with just a hint of copper there too. To complete the rod, Fuji alconite KR guides are used – a tip and 7 guides; they’re surprisingly petite but entirely effective.
The blank is made from HSD (High Structural Density) graphite, which incorporates precise resin control and very high graphite fibre per volume; the result is a lightweight blank delivering increased sensitivity and power. The rod itself has a soft regular taper – ideal for precision casting – with the ability to fold away at the tip while providing residual fish-playing power in the butt section.
The reel is a stunner to look at. It’s super stylish, in a metallic brown and copper finish, but it’s not blingy either ... even old fellas
like me will be OK with the look. What makes a reel a great reel though, is not what it looks like, but the technology it incorporates, and how it performs; and one feature that was so visual I spotted it straight away turns out in fact to be a technological advance. Straight out of the box, the empty reel spool is shallow and tapered! Once loaded, the line is also tapered up towards the lip of the spool. It certainly makes for a clean departure of line from the spool, and aids in both delicate precision casts and distance casting. Actually, the reel is packed with features: a corrosion-resistant Zaion body, both lighter and stronger than magnesium or alloy; Digigear II drive system, which is certainly smooth and powerful; and Magseal technology, which reduces the possible incursion of water and foreign matter. It sports 6 + 1 bearings, which also help with the super smooth operation. And although it’s lightweight it has the feel of a robust and well-engineered reel.
Performance Where It Matters
In the hand the SSS feels very light, and looks fine in diameter and thin in the blank walls. Under static load however, and after the tip folds away, the inherent strength and power of the design is apparent, to a greater extent than appearances suggest. The drag on the reel is very smooth, the clicker sings nicely as line leaves the reel, and the drag setting is both positive and very sensitive. That was pleasing.
But none of that ‘lawn fishing’ counts for anything, of course.At the river the first test was to attach a 3 inch hard body suspending lure and try some precision casting at the tail of ripples, and across the river to willow edges, and across and down some smooth glides. The reel and rod are described as finesse trout fishing tools, which is an accurate description. Easy one-handed casting and good accuracy from the setup were achieved.
I hooked a couple of 1½ to 2 lb browns to begin with and the hits were easily detected through the sensitive rod. It occurred to me that the SSS might also be a great softbait item as well. The trout were easily subdued and it was great to have seemingly endless small increments of drag setting to work with.
Then I hooked into a couple of bigger models, up to around 4½ to 5 lbs. This time the Daiwa really loaded and I got to lean on them a bit; no problem there. In my mind I imagined a 15 to 20 lb canal trout on the other end and decided I would confidently tackle them with this rod, having done so with my other light spinning rods. The other really pleasing aspect was the way its tip was an effective shock absorber when the bigger boys got airborne: no thrown hooks there, as can be the case when using braid lines. This setup really is a specialist finesse trout combo.
The next thing to try was to attach a 1/12 oz jighead and a softbait in 3” minnow pattern. This was easy casting, with great feel as the jighead bounced over the river’s gravel bottom at the tail of a ripple. First cast, a follow and a swirl… no hit, I’d have felt it if there was. Second cast, blank. Third cast, I felt the take and lifted the rod: good hook set, a short scrap and a solid brown in the net. So this setup is also versatile – it’s a softbait combo as well! I’m beginning to fall in love.
Next to try were the Daiwa Crusader metal lures in 5 and 7 gram, about what the rod is designed to cast. They can be cast an absolute mile, if you really wanted to ... but it’s pinpoint accuracy at which this setup excels. The Crusader lures took a couple of browns as they swept across and down the tail of a run onto a gravel bottom ripple and into a pool. Perfect.This combo is attractive to look at, is a great performer and it’s versatile. It satisfies the finesse aspect for small stream trout fishermen and it’s easy to cast – and easy on the angler – over an extended session. And it’s great for managing trout once hooked; I never dropped a one, nor did I lose any gear.
My next challenge? I’ve grown a bit attached to this outfit; do I really have to send it back? I don’t buy many trout rods or reels – but I’ve found one I’ve decided I’d like to own. If I can’t buy this one I’ll certainly be heading to my sports store once the Silver Creek/SSS Combo is on the shelves!